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The Best Advice for Entrepreneurs Right Now
If your dream has always been to start your own business, you might wonder if now is an excellent time to launch your idea. We live in unprecedented times with unique challenges for entrepreneurs. However, putting off your goals probably isn’t the wisest decision either. Instead, look for ways to ensure you find success no matter what else goes on in the world.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that around 80% of businesses survive year one. The numbers decrease over time as mistakes build and cash flow becomes an issue. Knowing how to navigate those uncharted waters prevents many of those failures.
Having survived the 10-year mark, I’ve learned a few key points along the way. If I’d known these tips when I first started, I probably wouldn’t have faced some of the struggles the brand went through from time to time. Pay attention to these seven points of advice for entrepreneurs, and your business is much more likely to thrive.
Advice for Entrepreneurs: Know Your Purpose
At the core of everything you do is your mission as a business. Take the time to think about why you started or want to start your company. There is usually a more profound reason than simply wanting to make a profit. Perhaps you want to help people like you, bring an exciting new product to the world, or offer something no one else offers to your community.
Figure out why you do what you do and put it in writing. Everything else you do centers around your purpose as a brand. If you find your objective early, you won’t make as many missteps as somebody who’s trying to be everything to everyone.
Learn Business Basics
You don’t necessarily need a degree to run a business, but taking a few courses in the basics is extremely helpful. At a minimum, you should take business courses in accounting, marketing, and people management.
Most schools now offer online courses you can complete on your own schedule as you work on other pursuits. There are also conferences on various topics as well as virtual classes. Avoid some of the newbie mistakes by learning from others in your courses.
Advice for Entrepreneurs: Find Excellent People
Those you hire to represent your brand can make or break you. Refine your interview process and go after the top prospects with perks they can’t get from bigger brands, such as flex time for working parents or telecommute options.
Seek out the absolute best candidates you can find and then build them up through training, including paying for their education. You might lose some of them to better-paying jobs later on, but having them in your employ, in the beginning, will make your business stronger.
Focus on the Brand
The product you sell today might not be relevant tomorrow. Focus on building a brand name and creating a trustworthy image for your customers. As you introduce new features, your customers will stay with you because they trust you to offer something worthwhile.
A good example of branding comes from My Pillow. Initially, the company offered a pillow. But they used the inventor’s personality and the fact that they are made in Minnesota to bring in customers. At some point, they had to add additional items. Otherwise, the market would grow saturated with their pillows. Today, they offer sheets, body pillows, face masks, and dog beds. They continue to expand their offerings successfully because they’ve built a strong brand image.
Advice for Entrepreneurs: Create a Culture
What kind of company do you want to run? Do you want workers to wake up excited to tackle a new day? They must feel you have their best interests at heart and are watching over them. If someone comes to work and has a sick child at home, cover their shift, and send them home to be with their little one. If another worker is starring in an off-off-off Broadway play, buy tickets and invite co-workers to attend if they’d like.
Cheer each other on, recognize hard work, and put in a little extra effort showing they are humans too you and not just a warm body to fill a chair. Regular team-building activities and daily stand-up meetings help keep everyone on the same path.
Even though risks are scary as a small business owner, they are how your business grows. If you aren’t sure whether your customers will enjoy a new product line, jump in with one item, and test the waters. Don’t be afraid to make bold moves, even if you lose a little money.
Just make sure you balance the risks with some common sense. You can’t constantly take risks, because not all of them will pay off. Only take the ones promising the potential for a big growth spurt for your company and where you can weather the storm if you lose out on the gamble.
Manage Cash Flow
As your business grows, your biggest problem will likely be cash flow. Many businesses fail because they try to scale up and don’t have the money to accomplish it. The entire thing comes tumbling down like dominoes. Instead, have a plan for what you’ll do if you suddenly get a massive order from a major big-box store. How will you buy the product to ship to them when they pay net-30 or net-60?
Seek out investors, use crowdfunding and tuck away extra money when things are booming. The more you have on hand to draw from, the less likely you are to experience cash flow issues. There are many other troubles once you experience cash flow problems, such as needing more workers but not having enough funds to pay them. Avoid this problem, and your company will scale up over and over without issue.
Stick With the Tried and True
Even though things are difficult right now for new entrepreneurs, stick with what works all the time. You can certainly add some items such as curbside pickup and delivery to what you already do, but you shouldn’t completely reinvent the wheel.
The issues we face in this economy right now will change and shift. Your customers need to know you’ll be the same tomorrow as you are today. Find your purpose and stick to it.
Author BIO: Lexie is a digital nomad and graphic designer.
If she’s not traveling to various parts of the country, you can find her at the local flea markets or hiking with her Goldendoodle.